In late 2015, founder Denny Katona was approached about seeking a corporate donation for the Corporal Chad Eric Oligschlaeger Foundation for PTSD. Denny had previously undergone EMDR therapy for post-traumatic stress, funded by the Cpl Chad O Foundation. Seeking to give back to the organization that helped him find life after the trauma. Not satisfied with simply getting a donation, Denny put together the first Spring Kickoff event, held in April 2016. Resourcing sponsorship, prizes, and entertainment for the event, his team was able to successfully raise $7700 for the Foundation.
During the weeks leading up to and following the event, Denny was immersed in networking, to, make sure the event was a success. He began to learn more and more about different organizations and the immense Veteran Community just within the Greater Austin area. From that discovery, the very first VetFest was born, bringing together close to 50 different Veteran organizations and businesses all for Austin area Veterans in November of 2016. Based upon the feedback received from both vendors and attendees, and their desire to see VetFest continue, Denny founded O.P. Veteran.
Since its founding, O.P. Veteran continues to grow and evolve, while staying true to its focus of easing the emotional transition by helping Veterans find a post-military passion and purpose. Spring Kickoff now boasts a formal beneficiary package, and O.P. VetFest has grown to be the largest outdoor veteran event of its kind within the Great State of Texas, as well as hosting numerous Veteran Engagement events throughout the year such as RED Fridays and the Flag Day Freedom Float.
Starting discussions in 2019 and formalizing the decision in August of 2020, Garrison Retreats, a 4-day resiliency focused retreat, merged into the organization to become a program of O.P. Veteran. Looking forward into the future, O.P. Veteran looks to follow this model in order to empower both organizations and individuals in pursuing their veteran serving passion by bringing them under the organizational umbrella while continuing to pursue its own inherently organic programs.
Utilize post military passion to ease emotional transition of Veterans.
Veterans successfully integrated back into civilian life with a renewed sense of purpose.
Upon separation from the military, Veterans often face a loss of self, belonging, and purpose.
Veterans are indoctrinated to “suck up” their trauma rather than seeking appropriate care. Trauma is an injury like any other; and can be healed with the proper treatment.
O.P. Veteran eases the emotional transition of Veterans by executing programs focused on Veteran social, mental, and community well-being.
Promote veteran volunteerism to both build and strengthen the Veteran Community while providing a sense of purpose often missing from veterans’ post-military lives.